Photoshoot 3 – 22/10/14

This photo-shoot, I went into the studio feeling pretty confident!
After having two practice shoots, I felt that I was ready and feeling rather excited to be working with not only a different model but also one of my classmates. Unfortunately, my model scheduled so thankfully my friend kindly stepped in (and I owe her a Starbucks coffee too!).

I had the studio set up ready for when my model walked in, we discussed what underwear we thought would be best and got the camera settings correct on my DSLR and then moved straight onto my Hassleblad… WITHOUT CHANGING THE SETTINGS!! *Bangs head repeatedly on table*.
This was a big photographer doo-doo and after developing the film I couldn’t believe what I had done.

Luckily, the images came out OKish, however my film looked very thin and disappointing – I went ahead and scanned the images in and with doing a slight boost on the scanning software I was able to recover parts of the images.
See below!

I had to do a lot of post production on these images – boosting the levels and contrast and having play about with the tonal range of the images to to bring back some of the detail. The images came out quite gritty-looking which I find works really well.
There is something about these images that makes the subject look quite vulnerable just wearing her underwear – the way people gaze at women nude and a lady in just lingerie can be seen in two different ways. Seeing a nude lady makes us think about the natural beauty of a woman – the skin tones, the curves of the body and there is something aesthetically pleasing that makes us want to value women in art and photography  – after all, women in art posed in this manner has always been popular genre. But seeing a lady in just her underwear changes the gaze completely – something like this can be seen in a more sexual manner, just revealing parts of her body to the viewer makes her seem like she’s teasing and posing in certain positions makes her look more appealing.
I am disappointed that I made such a big mistake for this photo-shoot, HOWEVER, I have decided to take this shoot as a happy accident! The film came out thin and rather under-exposed but I can work with this to help my photographs become a part of the Fragmented Body as part of this project I am doing at university.

These photographs are cropped to a certain manner so I can focus on specific parts of the female body and therefore develop my technical skills to ‘fragment’ this further. There are a number of things that I can do with this film – I can leave it as it is and head straight into the Darkroom and see what results I can achieve from doing a straight print.
I can also manipulate the films further – bury it, burn it, place it into bleach and see what weird effects I achieve. I plan on talking to tutor and technicians to see who I can look at for references as part of my research (I am keeping a Research Development Book (RDB) ). If you have any names then please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Let’s see what I can achieve!

Research – Robert Mapplethorpe.

When I was in college back in Norfolk, I was introduced to the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and I was also lucky to see some of his work on exhibition in London around 4 years ago – from what I can remember was that some of the images were so graphic that all was on show was black text, mounted inside a frame describing what the photograph was! When being first introduced to photography I found that so unusual and alien like – nowadays I just want to play around with text more in certain projects!

After having a “Progress Review”  and the GTA (Graduate Teaching Assistant) saying “have you looked at Robert Mapplethorpe” I was a little dumb-struck and couldn’t believe I didn’t go to this photographer as a first point of call!
So today I went to the library and looked at 2 thick books of his work (also completely forgetting how graphic some photographs were and nearly fell off my seat with pure surprise! haha!).
Here are some of the images I came across that felt fitting for what I want to achieve for Independent Study.

Reading throughout the book, I soon discovered that Mapplethorpe started his career off as a sculpture and then progressed onto photography. By looking at the photographs you can clearly see the link between the two arts – some of the models he took photographs of do mimic statues!
Looking at these images helped me to understand how he positioned everybody in his photographs, and inspecting closer I understood how important body shape is – different sizes, different skin tones and even the way muscle definition can look the same but different at the same time.
By keeping them in black and white, I find that you notice the body in more detail to how you would see it in colour, which is one of the reasons why I have decided to stick to monochrome photography.

Even after his death, Mapplethorpe’s work is still being shown in various galleries all over the place, and with having that insight to his work, I hope to produce high quality images that I can show in a gallery in an exhibition I can proudly call my own. I find that there is something beautiful in monochrome photography, especially when seen up close as opposed to a big thick dusty book from the library shelf.

Photoshoot 2 – 15/10/14

Wednesday 15th October I carried out my first Hassleblad studio shoot with a female body.
I had a wonderful model called Annie who studies at my university and she kindly volunteered to model for my project (and I will hopefully be using her again!)

The photoshoot went rather smoothly and quickly and Annie was wonderful to work with.
I decided to treat this photo-shoot as another test shoot and only asked my model to stay in her underwear, purely because I wanted to work on the curves and her body shape and was still getting use to handling the Hassleblad itself.
I was stupid enough to forget my tripod so I hand held my camera which made the photoshoot go at a reasonably slow pace but I had music playing in the background and Annie and I were deep in conversation. I managed to develop the film (after much cursing in the darkroom trying to get my film onto the reel for developing) and was able to digitally scan everything using the fantastic facilities UCA has to offer.
Below are some of (what I feel are) my strongest images from this shoot.

I went away feeling rather confident working with people for this style of photoshoot, however I felt that I was ‘winging’ how I wanted Annie to stand in front of the camera. Even though I was giving her clear direction of how I wanted her I secretly had NO idea on how I wanted her to stand/sit and was pretty much treating everything like a photographic experiment.

After having a Progress Review with the Photography’s GTA and around 8 of my classmates we all agreed that I should probably research looking into body forms and shapes to help me get a clearer idea of how models posed for paintings and photographs (which I will no doubt create a moodboard on Pintrest for purely for this) and to also research into the Anatomy a bit more in depth too.
I was also suggested to take a visit to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum to look at all the statues and how they are carved and moulded.

NEXT STEPS:
* Look into body posture
* Look into body shapes – both feminine and masculine
* Look into Anatomy
*Try and plan a visit to the V&A.

Hassleblad Practice.

For my Independent Study project, I decided that I wanted to work with film.
For what I want to be able to achieve for this brief, I decided that working with Medium Format film would be suitable. For me to be able to go ahead and do this, I needed to understand the Hassleblad in more depth!

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Above: Me working with the Hassleblad and all my equipment (thank you to my friend for taking this for me!) . Below: the camera I used.

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Throughout my 2-3 years of studying at UCA, I have never once picked up a Hassleblad… I know, I’ve left it a little late (but hey! Better late than never!).
I managed to hire out the beauty above and get a one-to-one tutorial with Paul the Techie who lives in what us Photography students call it the “Fish Tank” office… (the office is literally a big window in the wall and it looks like a larger version of a fish tank.) The tutorial with Paul was really helpful – he went through a quick recap of how everything works – loading the film, how to take the back off the camera, the aperture rings and shutter speed.

Above are some of the images from the roll of 120mm film from my practice shoot with the Hassleblad.(To enlarge the photographs, just click on the image).
I understand these pictures have nothing to do with my project and in all fairness I did enjoy stepping away from my project, but I wanted the opportunity to go out and get use to handling the Hassleblad before going ahead with any shoots I organise in the studio.
After my tutorial with Paul the Techie, I went away from the “Fish Tank” feeling very excited and extremely eager to take photographs – just the thought of darkroom chemicals was enough to send me crazy!
I took a stroll with my two friends and was able to walk away from the meadows feeling very confident and enthusiastic about Medium Format,  and to top the day off I instantly fell in love with the Hassleblad!
When shooting my practice film with the Hassleblad I found it very confusing at first – every movement and angle is so sensitive compared to most cameras I have handled and I discovered I am better of using a tripod to help steady my shakey hands when taking the photographs. But once I got use to the sensitivity I was able to steady myself and I managed to find a mutual bond with the camera (only photographers will understand this bond – you just instantly know how to work the camera!).
I feel that I am still new to this whole Hassleblad craze, but I know the more shoots I do with this camera, the more I will gain confidence and produce top-notch photographs for this project!